DESIGNER FURNITURE doesn’t come with a small price tag, and perhaps that’s what makes it luxurious and covetable. But what exactly are you paying for? The brand, its heritage and aesthetics all count for something; but beyond the surface, it’s craftsmanship that renders them so dear.
The beauty of marquetry is expressed in this elegant bedside console designed by Laura Kirar. Its fabrication involved cabinetmakers and finishers who have devoted a lifetime to the mastery of a single, demanding craft. The piece features a surface pattern created out of carefully cut quarter-sawn exotic Pau Ferro and walnut veneers that are aligned by hand – a marquetry technique that dates back to the early 16th century. As for the main frame that’s composed of solid wood, it’s assembled by the American brand’s craftsmen using traditional joinery methods passed down by Old World masters.
Weaving is used to turn a simple, humble material into a durable design feature, resulting in the woven paper cord seat of the iconic Wishbone chair. It takes a skilled craftsman about an hour to weave the seat by hand with around 120m of paper cord, constructed first by entwining pieces of paper. This weaving technique itself takes around three months to learn. With a solid oak frame, this was one of the very first models and the most popular chair that Danish master chair maker Hans J. Wegner (he has over 500 chairs to his name) designed for Carl Hansen & Son. Since its first production in 1950, the Wishbone Chair has been made till today with the same 14 parts, which require over 100 manual processes and weeks of preparation.
An example that encapsulates the age-old techniques of traditional woodworking is Italian brand Giorgetti’s flagship range, Progetti. It consists of armchairs, two-seater sofas and stools in solid beech wood, featuring armrests in precious Brazilian Pau Ferro hardwood. The curved, yet structured frame of this highly recognisable series was inspired by an antique walking stick, giving it the charm of a bygone era.
It takes around five weeks to produce a Giorgetti armchair, excluding supplying and drying the wood. And it takes a whole year just to supply precious Pau Ferro wood, a highlight of the Progetti range. Giorgetti was originally founded as an artisanal cabinetmaking laboratory in Meda, Brianza, in 1898. This region in Italy is famous for artisans skilled in woodworking, and carved furniture. The Italian brand therefore leverages on over a hundred years of traditional craftsmanship and high quality raw materials, while taking into account modern technology.
The ancient art of glassblowing is still preserved today, in the production of quality modern pieces. A fine example is the Yakisugi collection of lighting designed by Kengo Kuma for Czech company Lasvit, known for its luxurious glass pieces. Not just an art, but also a science, glassblowing requires specific knowledge on working with an amorphous solid. It can be traced back, far beyond the Roman Empire, to the ancient Phoenicians. Over time, primitive clay blowpipes were replaced by glass blowpipes, followed by more convenient metal blowpipes, which artisans still use today.
Specifically, in the making of the Yakisugi collection, inspired by the ancient Japanese technique for preserving construction timber by charring its surface, dry wood is used instead of a traditional mould. Charred by the molten glass after it’s blown, the wood leaves an imprint of its scorched texture on the glass surface, creating a unique original piece each time.